News / Middle East

    Some Egyptian Islamists on Haj Pray for Victory Against Generals

    A Muslim pilgrim prays at Mount Al-Noor ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Oct. 10, 2013.
    A Muslim pilgrim prays at Mount Al-Noor ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Oct. 10, 2013.
    Reuters
    Saudi Arabian authorities have asked pilgrims to put politics aside during the annual haj, but amid bitter divisions in Egypt, some Islamists refuse to keep quiet.

    “What's happening in Egypt now is a disgrace, the army is killing innocent Muslims in cold blood every day,” said Zaghloul Hassanien, the owner of an oil products company in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura.

    He was standing in a supermarket near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam and focal point for the millions of Muslims flocking to the city for the annual rites, which start on Monday.

    Keenly aware of the potential for political tensions to flare into violence at a time of upheaval across the Middle East, the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on Wednesday asked pilgrims to leave disputes at home.

    Bolstered security

    He said the kingdom had drafted 95,000 members of the security forces to maintain order.

    Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia not only hosts the pilgrimage, but increasingly is involved in the conflicts across the region

    The kingdom is embroiled in a region-wide contest with Shi'ite Iran for influence, as each side accuses the other of backing Syria's bloody civil war.

    It also has given Egypt billions of dollars to help prop up the economy and support the generals who in July ousted a government led by Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Sunni Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi leaders see the organization as a direct threat to their dynastic rule.

    As demonstrations by Brotherhood supporters in Egypt are met by a crackdown by government forces, feelings are running high among pilgrims from the most populous Arab nation but they say they do not plan to cause unrest.

    Mixed views

    One fully veiled Egyptian woman said haj was not a place for politics, but, citing the hundreds of Brotherhood members killed in protests, she added that she would pray for God's vengeance to strike army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

    “Before coming to haj we agreed not to talk about politics to avoid any problems in this country,” said Mohammed Ramadan, 63, a retired government employee from the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria. “Islamic rule will prevail. God is Greatest.”

    For other Egyptian pilgrims, Sisi represents a chance to restore the country's stability.

    “In every prayer I say God bless Sisi, God give him the strength to protect us against these people that claim to be religious and who have no connection with Islam,” Mohammed Mahmoud Ahmed, a 36-year-old pilgrim from Aswan.

    But most Egyptians making their way into the holy city said their most fervent prayers were for peace.

    “Egypt was never like this: Now within a family you have one brother that supports Morsi and another that supports the army and they kill each other over these differences,” said Mosaad Moahmed Hamed, a 28-year-old pilgrim from Mansoura.

    “I am praying to God in these holy days that Egypt will be united again. We are tired of hearing about people being killed every day,” he said.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.